October 15, 2014

Feeling grateful, thankful and blessed...
Thanksgiving time arrived with the gift of family togetherness, home cooking, nature wandering, canoeing, hiking, laughter, music, reading, affection... and lots of food. 
Arrowhead wilderness in Muskoka was welcoming, cozy, beautiful and peaceful. The natural world as one of my greatest teachers always helps me cultivate my own voice of wonder, wisdom, humility, and gratitude. Every encounter with the absolute perfect silence, the fine reflection at calm water, the gorgeous leaves and their crunching sound under my boots, the fresh smell of autumn in the air make me thankful for all my senses, my body, my every breath. 
And then came the FOOD - planning it, cooking it, setting the table, serving the meal, eating it and sharing it with people who make you feel good inside and give you a bit of themselves when you are together. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, roasted veggies, cranberry sauce and potatoes - the essential elements of our Thanksgiving dinner. Of course, the pumpkin pie was expected. But somehow this humble sweet strudel that my husband makes with so much love and care; this simple traditional Bulgarian pastry with phyllo dough and fresh pumpkin filling (called tikvenik) convinced me that this would be a perfect way to make this year's Thanksgiving celebration an extra special one.
As we relished in the softest, flavourful and utterly delicious taste of baked pumpkin, walnut nuts and cinnamon, we gave thanks for all that we are and all that we have.   

Pumpkin Strudel 


1 (1 lb) package phyllo pastry
2 lb (1kg) sugar pie pumpkin
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup walnuts (chopped)
1 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup of water
2-3 tbsp powdered sugar ( for sprinkling)


Bring the phyllo dough out of the refrigerator in advance. Cut pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Remove the skin of the pumpkin, cut it into small pieces and shred.
In a large saucepan, sauté the pumpkin in 1/2 cup oil. Add 1 cup of brown sugar, half cup of water and cook by stirring constantly until water evaporates and pumpkin is tender (approximately 10 min). Add walnuts and cinnamon. Remove from the heat and  set aside to cool.
Heat oven to 350 °F.
Unfold the phyllo pastry. Take one single sheet and drizzle it with 1 tsp oil. Spread about 1/3 cup of the pumpkin filling across the width of the bottom side of the sheet. Roll the sheet loosely into cylinder/cigar-like shape. Place into a greased baking dish. Repeat with the rest of the pastry.
If a rectangular baked dish is used, place the rolls parallel to each other. If it is a round baked dish, arrange rolls into a spiral from the edge to the centre.
Bake the strudel until golden, approximately 40 minutes. When ready, remove from oven and cover with clean cloth to soften.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with powder sugar if you wish.

Enjoy and share with someone you love.

I am sharing this post at Home Sweet HomeFeathered Nest Friday

Autumn Mood

October 9, 2014

"When the birches in the hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees along the lane put on the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy green, while the fields sunned themselves in aftermaths, Anne from Anne of Green Gables exclaimed on one Saturday morning, "I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.  Look at these maple branches. Don't they give you a thrill--several thrills?".  

Ah, Lucy Maud Montgomery, you are absolutely right, October is a beautiful month in Canada, filled with colours, magical light, harvest abundance and all the simple pleasures one's heart needs. I love Autumn. I really do! The quiet gracious dance of the falling leaves gives me a thrill every time I witness their movements - they seem as alive in their ending as I feel alive right now. My soul is ready to welcome fall in.
There were some days, some tasks this season that seemed like big insurmountable mountains to climb. I have experienced a great disappointment in confronting unfair decisions, bureaucratic barriers, and confusing and unclear procedures... There was sadness and hopelessness and suffering... But in the mist of all this, there is learning, transformation and growth.
Challenges and heartaches can bring affirmations of unexpected depth, a healthy sense of vulnerability, knowing that life is both hard and good, beautiful and ugly, hurtful and healing. Being alive and living life means showing up not only for the pleasant moments, but staying open for the inevitable difficulties and losses as well, because... it will change; nothing is permanent. By its very nature, life means change and we can not always control the reality. The only thing that depends on us is how we react to it - our attitude. Finding fulfilment in life, I believe, comes from cultivating and nurturing our acceptance and open attentiveness to the full spectrum of life, our ability to embrace with grace and gratitude joy and sorrow, fear and courage, darkness and light, indifference and kindness, bad and good moments. No challenges should prevent us from our strive towards beauty, truth and freedom; they only teach us how to be less naive, more thoughtful, stronger and resilient when we meet them next time.

This perfect October morning, I found myself walking down the pathway quickly pulling the dog. Nature has already painted everything in copper, dark red and gold. Leaves were slowly floating on the water's surface. With all the worries that had occupied the back of my mind, I failed to experience the glamorous autumn landscape. When... suddenly, a big orange-brownish butterfly appeared in front of my face. While circling in the air, its subtle autumn colours blended with the pretty falling leaves from the trees. The monarch butterfly was involved in a very gentle beautiful dance while occasionally returning to me. By performing its pirouettes, the butterfly was seeking my attention. It was this moment, when nothing else in the world matters, the universe was collaborating with me again. It was a silent private conversation between me and the monarch butterfly who was probably having its last autumn dance before migrating thousands kilometres from our city to the hibernation site in Mexico. She wanted me to know something. She wanted to gift me with the most caring, warm and assuring HUG of the universe. "You are alive, Sylvia! You are healthy. You are loved. You are a fighter for light. You are OK! Let it go and breathe into your faith of goodness in life. Dance with the leaves!"
Coming back home, I diced fresh-picked apples from the orchard. I put them into dough and gently kneaded it with my floured hands. I formed wedges and put them into the oven. The room was concurred by the smell of baked apples and cinnamon. I made coffee. I sat on the sofa. I gulped down a sip of the hot reviving brew and took a big bite from the buttery flakey warm apple honey scone.... and said to myself "I am so glad I LIVE in a world where there is Autumn!" 

Thank you my dear friends for your endless support and words of encouragement. 
Happy Thanksgiving Day to all of you who will celebrate this weekend! 

A Sense of Summer

September 8, 2014

Just like that, the summer has once again slipped through my fingers-fast, too soon, as it always does... 
Like the ice cubes in my drink, it has melted almost invisible, leaving me thirsty for more. I am not ready to see summer shut down yet, despite my love for autumn. 
I still feel that sensation of the soft beach sand under my bare feet, and the sun lightly kissing my skin. The unframed sky is wrapping its long blue arms around the calm sea; time is passing slowly as the sailing ship in the distance...The water is gently changing colours from shimmering gray-blue to sparkling turquoise or deep green. As I stay on the beach, in the warm sweetness of the late summer afternoon, I am losing touch with the world... I am immersing myself into the softness of this moment, indulging in the taste of salty water, breathing in the pungent smell of seaweed... A glimpse of infinity makes me feel as a tiny spot in a masterly painted summer landscape.

My lungs are filled with summer. 
My heart is bursting with memories, one of the best ever summer memories-something special and deeply cherished... 

Thank you to all of life's adventurers who entered lovely comments on "Life is an Adventure" post for a chance to win a free copy of the premiere issue of Bella Grace Magazine. I am happy to have been a part of the Bella Grace Blog Hope as I wish I could send every one of you a copy of this inspiring publication.
Congratulations to the winner, Jacqueline ~ Cabin and Cottage to whom "taking time to see beauty is always an adventure".    

If you keep following the Bella Grace Blog Hop, you still have a chance to enjoy a free issue of the magazine. 
Thank you Stampington & Company. 

Life is an Adventure (a giveaway)

August 21, 2014

The time I heard "life is an adventure", I immediately thought that the only possible way to experience that was to pack a backpack, open a map and let my finger choose a destination; whether I would find myself in a gondola in Venice, or on a hot air balloon over Kathmandu, it didn't matter as long as I was far away from the well-known place I lived and everything around me was new, unknown and exotic... In fact, I have lived life that way-traveling, crossing oceans, setting foot on almost every airport in Europe, changing countries, meeting new people, loving new places... Our world is a fascinating one, full of excitement and wonder, after all, and when we move somewhere new, the adventure begins... But then, as time passes by, everything starts to become more normal, less exciting, irritatingly predictable... the wonder of the not so new surrounding somehow undetectably fades...
Now, I believe that we don't need to do something dramatic or risky in order to have a more adventurous life. As time passes on, I have learned the substance of the following brilliant thought "Adventure isn't hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life." (John Amatt).
Now, it seems to me that packing the backpack and circling the globe is less challenging and less fulfilling than to live life in a constant state of wonder every single day despite where you are. We all can make our lives adventurous and surprisingly beautiful as we pay attention to seemingly ordinary moments of the everyday in an attempt to see our same, well-known world as a whole new universe. Even if we have lived in the same street and worked the same job for a long time, there are still wonders to be discovered, simple pleasures to be experienced and amazing things to be seen...
humble flowers,
mellow fruits,
unforgettable sunsets,
sunflowers ready to harvest,
abandoned houses full of stories,
inspiring books,
fresh water,
hot coffee,
walnut trees,
kind faces...

Life is, indeed, a beautiful adventure. Stay awake for it, pay attention, find excitement in the ordinary... Adventure is an attitude.

What have you done to add excitement into your everyday life?

Please, share your adventure in the comment section below and you will have a chance to win a copy of the premiere issue of Bella Grace .
You haven't heard of Bella Grace yet?
Well, it is a wonderful artsy new publication of Stampington & Company and I am more than delighted to be a part of it. With a folding, book-jacket cover, the magazine that is more like a book, showcases delicate images of everyday beauty as well as inspiring thoughts of simple and slow living. In honour of the first volume, Stampington & Company invited a number of artists, bloggers and photographers to participate in a Bella Grace Blog Hope through the entire month of August. You can visit other artists' posts and receive more chances to win a free copy of Bella Grace.

Comments will remain open until Friday September 5th, 2014 and the winner will be announced in the following blog post.

Thank you for taking the time
and thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you, dear readers, friends and family for voting for me in the annual Top 30 Toronto Mom Bloggers search at TorontoMomNow.
I won!!!
2014 Toronto Mom Blogger is Sylvia from Sylvia's Simple Life! 
I owe you guys for that one!
You are amazing!

The Cherry on Top

July 9, 2014

The summer sunlight is warming up my days from mornings to nights. Then comes the brief, but pouring summer rain to cool off the earth... and my mind... leaving me soaking wet with a smile on my face and a song on my lips. But, the cherry on top is the rainbow that arcs across the sky, shining with its awesome colours only to remind me that "you need both the sun and the rain to make its colours appear". 
Good things are happening here. Mostly good things are happening here...
Cherries are in season and I have been indulging in our locally grown fruits and just can't get enough. Cherry tart, cherry syrup on pancakes and ice cream, cherry smoothies and cherry mini loaves for breakfast... And the cherry on top is the picking-your-own fresh and juicy stone fruits from the cherry tree, climbing up a limb, plucking these jewels off a branch and carelessly eating them with your red coloured fingers. Cherry after cherry after cherry. Perhaps, in the summer, life might really be "just a bowl of cherries". 
These lovely days of blue skies and gentle breezes are perfect for picnics. So, I am calling friends, packing the picnic basket with leisurely meals, market-inspired recipes and cherries. Together we are going to the country side, finding the perfect picnic spot and spreading a blanket on the ground. Looking at our children lying on the grass makes me press my face into the ground, smell the black, rich dirt and feel the good Earth. The cherry on top is this delicious feeling of being removed from time, alive and happy, this warm energy flowing into and out of my body that, I guess, is nothing else, but faith in the goodness of life.
Then comes the special day of my son's 16th birthday. Overwhelming love, and care, and gratitude make every moment more than a celebration. Cakes with lots of chocolate, special meals and summer refreshers, fancy clothes and presents.... But, the cherry on top of everything is this kind, thoughtful and intelligent young man that never stops to amazes me, challenges me to grow right along with him and inspires me to be better than I am.
When hearts are open, love is flowing, life seems easy and good things happen.
An email arrived in my mailbox. Toronto Mom Now, in an effort to recognize the wonderful writing and work of Toronto mom bloggers, are running an annual nomination for 2014 Top 30 Toronto Mom Bloggers. With this email, they informed me that after reviewing all the nominees, they narrowed the list down to 30 and I (with my blog) am one of them. What a surprise and good news!  They are also choosing one overall top blogger as a Top Mom Blogger for 2014. Though I really do not like such a voting process I would highly appreciate a vote. If you wish once more to show your support, you can click on Sylvia's Simple Life here.  The voting is open until July 14. And the cherry on top of all this is the fact that I was nominated by an unknown kind reader of the blog to whom I am immensely thankful to. So, you really never know who is reading your blog, but what I know for certain is that you, dear readers,  are the cherry on top of my blog and I love you all!

the cherry on top (or on the cake)
 * a desirable feature perceived as the finishing touch to something that is already very good.  
 * the last good thing after many other good things. 
(Oxford Dictionaries) 


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